Double-amputee 2012 London Summer Olympic sensation 26-year-old South African Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his 29-year-old supermodel girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14. A South African newspaper reported that Pistorius administered frantic CPR to Steenkamp while bleeding to death after she was shot four times by Pistorius at his gated Silver Woods estate. Reports at the crime scene from Pistorius’ neighbors indicated that the Olympic sprinter argued with Steenkamp before unloading four rounds from his 9mm semiautomatic weapon through the bathroom door where Reeva hid. Johannesburg prosecutors say they’ll seek premeditated murder charges against Pistorius, the most serious crime in South Africa. While there was no one other than Pistorius at the crime scene, proving intent to murder won’t be easy for the Johannesburg prosecutors.
Reports at the scene showed that Oscar desperately tried to resuscitate his dying girlfriend after fatally shooting her. “We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegations and that the state’s own case, including the forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of premeditated murder,” said Oscar’s uncle, Arnold Pistorius. Uncle Arnold said the Pistorius clan was “grieving for Reeva, her family and her friends.” Facing arraignment in Johannesburg, Pistorius wept convulsively through his first hearing, held over until his bail proceedings Tuesday, where prosecutors expect to ask the judge to keep the six-time Paralympic athlete behind bars. Saying Oscar was “numb with shock as well as grief,” Uncle Arnold insisted that Oscar planned for a life with his swimsuit model girlfriend. Prosecutors plan to paint a very different picture at Oscar’s bail hearing.
Hurting Oscar’s credibility are neighbors’ reports that the two fought on Valentine’s Day night, culminating in the early-morning shooting that took Steenkamp’s life. When neighbors heard gunfire, they alerted security guards who arrived on the scene at 3:30 a.m. observing Oscar administering CPR to Steenkamp’s blood soaked body. Johannesburg authorities indicated that Steenkamp was hit four times, in the hip, arm, hand and head, delivering the fatal wound. While thousands of miles from the U.S., this latest incident of gun violence proves, beyond any doubt, that accessibility of guns in domestic affairs can lead to deadly violence. Even if Oscar’s uncle is correct, that Oscar didn’t intend to kill Reeva, that doesn’t mean that he won’t get convicted of second-degree murder, putting him behind bars for many years. Had Oscar not had a gun, Steenkamp would still be alive.
Since the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20-year-old gunman Adam Peter Lanza opened fire and killed 20 school-aged children and adults, a new gun debate swept the nation. Even the staunchest Second Amendment advocates acknowledge that something must be done to prevent more gun violence against children. Backed into a corner National Rifle Assn.’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre underscored why something must be done. LaPierre insisted Dec. 16, 2012 that arming more folks with guns would prevent gun violence, the exact reason that took supermodel Reeva Steenkamp’s life. Without Pistorius possessing firearms, it’s very likely Steenkamp would still be alive. Shooting her through the door indicates that, at the very least, Pistorius was guilty of reckless negligence firing into a room where Reeva took refuge.
According to Oscar’s uncle, his nephew was crazy about Reeva and planned to make a life with her. “They had plans together, and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time,” said Uncle Arnold giving some clues as to what went wrong for the 26-year-old Olympic athlete. Dating only since November, it’s possible Steenkamp had a change of heart, or, at the very least, fought about something that triggered Oscar’s rage. Whatever the situation, Oscar opened fire through a bathroom door where Reeva was hiding. Losing that much control in the wee hours of the morning usually comes with a night of drinking or possible drug use. There’s been no mention about possible alcohol or drug use on the night of the incident. If Uncle Arnold was correct, Oscar was so “smitten” with Reeva that he couldn’t tolerate a fight or a possible breakup.
Pistorius’ case illustrates how guns can turn ordinary domestic disputes or intemperate episodes into lethal events. Whether or not Pistorius intended to kill his girlfriend is anyone’s guess. What’s clear is that having firearms on the premises resulted in Steenkamp’s death. If you listen of LaPierre’s arguments, only irresponsible gun owners cause lethal incidents. What LaPierre and the NRA don’t get is that human beings too often lose control of their emotions and do irrational things, including pulling the trigger on firearms. Researchers studying gun violence have found that the “trigger pulls the finger,” namely, that the accessibility and availability of handguns is in fact the leading cause of death. Whatever Oscar’s intent, he didn’t sob through his court hearing because he felt justified killing his girlfriend. Reeva was just the latest casualty of today’s obsession with guns.
About he Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.